Danger of Crocodile Attack Increasing:

Toothy morsel anyone?

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Heeeeer's Dinner!      Australian sign with obvious meaning.A narrow escape.  Tourist said he was "teasing" croc for a photo, when it leapt out of the water at him.     Mirror photo.Nile Crocodile.  Must have had a NHS dentist.Arm bitten off at shoulder by alligator in the States.  Man lived.   cdnn photohomo Sapiens female demonstrating argumentative technique...definitely not an NHS dentist.  getty images photoThe late Steve Irwin with "Pet."  He genuinely loved crocs and was rarely hurt by them...but he didn't tackle 20 foot Salties.
Heeeeer's Dinner!      Australian sign with obvious meaning.
Heeeeer's Dinner! Australian sign with obvious meaning.
A narrow escape.  Tourist said he was "teasing" croc for a photo, when it leapt out of the water at him.     Mirror photo.
A narrow escape. Tourist said he was "teasing" croc for a photo, when it leapt out of the water at him. Mirror photo.
Nile Crocodile.  Must have had a NHS dentist.
Nile Crocodile. Must have had a NHS dentist.
Arm bitten off at shoulder by alligator in the States.  Man lived.   cdnn photo
Arm bitten off at shoulder by alligator in the States. Man lived. cdnn photo
homo Sapiens female demonstrating argumentative technique...definitely not an NHS dentist.  getty images photo
homo Sapiens female demonstrating argumentative technique...definitely not an NHS dentist. getty images photo
The late Steve Irwin with "Pet."  He genuinely loved crocs and was rarely hurt by them...but he didn't tackle 20 foot Salties.
The late Steve Irwin with "Pet." He genuinely loved crocs and was rarely hurt by them...but he didn't tackle 20 foot Salties.

Two More Victims to Savage Saurians

I would like to dedicate this humble article to Steve Irwin who died three years ago this September 4.

In the news today was the saddening story that a 41-year-old man and a four-year-old girl were taken by crocodiles in two separate attacks on the same day in Brunei. Brunei is on Borneo Island, bordering Malaysia. The man and his wife were fishing in knee- deep water and knew the croc was there, but decided to ignore it anyway; rather like turning a blind eye to a cobra in the kitchen….in fact, worse, because the cobra wouldn’t be interested in having you for breakfast. The child was swimming with her father and siblings who could do nothing as she disappeared beneath the water.

I found out that there are around 23 species of “Crocodilians,” (love that word) around the world, 8 of which are considered - or have been proven to be - dangerous to man and/or man-eaters.

The two worst offenders by a country mile are the Nile Crocodile and the infamous Saltwater Crocodile, or “Saltie” in Aussie-speak.

In the past, Australians have had a sort of love-hate relationship with this hugely dangerous creature: the affection engendered in part by programs such as those presented by the ill-fated Steve Irwin, although he fell prey (in the non literal sense) to a sting-ray as you will no doubt recall. But make no mistake, rugged, sun-bronzed Australians, who in general fear little, and will casually whip the head off a Tiger Snake, have been known to tremble when discussing the doings of the Saltie, especially over the last 20 years or so when attacks from the reptile have become numerous and well publicised. Australia now has signs warning of the dangers of swimming where the crocs are found, along with a lot of other advice on how to behave in the bush in crocodile territory. More on that later. (How not to become…).

Crocodiles are by far the most dangerous predator proven to be man-eaters. If lions behaved like they do, we would probably have open season on them and eliminate them in short order. Crocs and their fellow species kill and consume literally thousands of people every year in Africa, countries along the Nile, New Guinea and Malaysia, etc. That there are only a few fatalities in Australia is because people don’t live by, or depend on the rivers for their survival as do the world’s poorer peoples. But even in an educated and aware nation like Oz, attacks are becoming more numerous on beaches as well as in the outback.

Crocodiles are an extremely efficient and cunning predator, they wouldn’t have survived and flourished all these millions of years if they were not. They have the patience of Job and will wait silently for hours and days for an opportunity to develop. And when it does, they strike swiftly and without remorse - a sensibility unknown in the reptile brain. A croc attack can occur night or day; in shallow or deep water; either muddy and clear. A four-metre croc can be completely concealed in less than one foot of muddy water! When they strike, the attack is usually over in seconds with the victim dragged into deeper water and drowned. They have often attacked people walking along the water’s edge and have even trotted over hundreds of meters of dry land at night to attack campers or to find their food. Fisherman are high on a croc’s diet, thanks to their proclivity to stand in shallow water and cast their lines; attend their traps, or even clean the fish: an act really asking for trouble, akin to chumming for sharks in another environment.

Part of the reason for the increase in the number of incidents is down to people feeding crocodiles (voluntarily I mean). This causes the simple-minded creature to associate the sight of humans with food - which can be the offering of scraps held in the hand, or the hand and arm itself as the croc drags little Ronnie out of the boat to have for tea. The crocs also more commonly see dogs, cats, or even small children as part of the fare provided by the kindly “cargo cult” of well-meaning twerps who continue to feed them, despite warnings. The increase in attacks on small boats seem to indicate the crocs are seeing a can of human sardines rather than the fragile, aluminium hulls. But not to get carried away on flights of fancy; I don’t thinks they have printed menus so far.

Yet…it’s not hard to see crocodiles and the others becoming a real problem to human kind. I mean, look how many of them there are throughout the world; and reflect on their sheer bulk. That means an awful lot of victims in the form of their natural prey, and crocs will eat almost any protein food. Perhaps the increasing frequency of attacks on humans is because their natural food is dying out whereas man is, as ever, increasing. How should we view this: with alarm? Or should we think, “Good old crocs, they are keeping the population down!” One thing is sure, people will have to begin respecting these monsters and keeping well away from danger areas of their territory. Then, a crocodile covering dry land to reach human populations of any size can be shot in good conscience. Australians are considering and already using methods to minimize the threat, including erecting signs (see photo), culling and closing some protected areas to the public. But, as ever, the real problem with crocs exists far away from large cities and the media. Most of the fatalities exist deep in jungles, around large islands or the Nile littoral. South America has the dangers of the huge Orinoco and Black Caimans to contend with. In America’s Florida, Alligator attacks are becoming more frequent, especially on pets causing locals to grumble about culling.

 

How not to become another victim:

Number one, is don’t feed crocodiles, rather than a kind action, this is creating a problem for you and those who come later.

Don’t swim anywhere in crocodile country without local advice on water safety. Never swim at night or in muddy water or anywhere you can see croc “slides” (a bare patch of the bank where crocs enter and leave the water).

Don’t walk anywhere close to the water’s edge, including on overhangs close to the surface, as they have been know to jump out of the water and grasp prey in these situations.

Don’t camp within at least 100 meters of the water. Although crocs don’t relish heaving their bulk around out of water, they will do it and can move very fast on dry land! (during periods of drought, they have been known to travel 20 miles or more on dry land to find open water).

In Australia, crocs are more dangerous and active during breeding season (September to May).

If you have been chased by a croc on water or on dry land and have reached a refuge of temporary safety, don’t assume the croc has left after some time - even hours and all day - and enter the water again to get back ashore. They are used to this with deer and other game and will wait - and wait. A croc once waited 3 weeks for someone up a tree so the legend goes, the tale doesn’t say how the intended victim kept alive all that time. But you get the message. They have that eternal reptile patience you see in zoos when they lay all day not moving, no matter how much you yell at them and even poke them with twigs (NOT recommended). But tourists attacked by crocs in Oz from which they escaped, have the most ridiculous stories to tell. Like, “Oh, I was just pushing him with my foot to get him to open his mouth for a photo!” (Recounted by a one-legged man in Cairns).

It has been said that you can escape the crushing pressure of a croc’s jaws by actually pushing your arm down its throat and scraping its glottis which causes it to let go. Would take no little salt to do, and no guarantees it wouldn’t just bite your arm off. (Crocs have incredible power when closing jaws and little when opening them).

Notes:

Crocodiles have been around for 200 million years, since the age of the Dinosaurs, but saw more success when their larger rivals became extinct about 60 million years ago. Our modern crocs, the “Crocodilia” descended from “Pseudosuchians” which walked on their hind legs like many dinosaurs. The crocodile is a toughie as it was the only “Archosaur” to survive the mass extinction of reptiles at the end of the Mesozoic period. It had not been threatened until man and his gun arrived.

Crocs today cannot walk on hind legs (as can many other reptiles), but it indicates its ancestry by its longer rear legs and lower frontal standing position.

Crocs began as terrestrial reptiles but became almost wholly aquatic during the Triassic and Jurassic periods.

In the fossil record of crocs has been found the “Supercrocodile” of upwards of 35 feet in length. The largest today are the Australian Saltwater Crocodiles, which can grow to upwards of 20 feet in length and weigh 2,000 pounds or more. A formidable carnivore indeed at more than twice the weight of a fully grown Bengal tiger and with a bite pressure measured in tons per square inch. These massive predators can easily pull a full grown buffalo into the river and drown it, even, occasionally, a young elephant. A mere man is a piece of cake.

In truth, the crocodile and its fellows are far more threatened by man than he is of the croc. They are a sitting target for high-powered rifles on the riverbanks and their glowing eyes at night give their presence away to hunters. They have also been poisoned, burned and set upon by dogs. Once in the water, they are safer, but damming, farming, other land usage, and recreational water use has threatened their habitat. The crocodile represents no threat to man in Australia as long as we use simple precautions when in their territory. The problem is much greater among the poor in Africa and other areas and cannot be properly addressed in this simple article. But It would be a terrible shame if such an ancient and magnificent carnivore was lost to us by our own fear, foolishness and hysteria..

 

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Comments 15 comments

paul_gibsons profile image

paul_gibsons 7 years ago from Gibsons, BC, Canada

ah.. people and wildlife.. so much fun to watch, even more than wildlife on its own. Your story reminded me of my sadly unknown hero (if ever I need one), the guy or gal who discovered that bears only lower their temperature by two or three degrees during their winter sleep. Not only was that in the days before digital or "distant" thermometers; in order to get that data published he/she had to repeat the experiment many times with many bears to make sure it is a scientifically and statistically significant result. Finding a sleeping bear (let alone bears) is no mean feat in itself; probing its butt with a thermometer AND keeping it asleep (they are very light sleepers) requires a degree of skill unmatched these days, or foolhardyness matched by many nowadays, witness your article...


diogenes profile image

diogenes 7 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Yes, Paul. Of course, the bear might allow, even welcome attention of that sort during that long boring period? Perhaps they only pretend to be asleep? I do remember some intimate moments in my youth when...never mind!

Thanks for the interest Bob


crocman1111 profile image

crocman1111 7 years ago from Frankfurt, Germany

Thanks for the interesting blog, especially for the last few sentences. I do certainly agree. And we shouldn't forget: Much more people, in Oz and anywhere else, get annually killed by lightnings, by bee stiches, by dogs or horses. Crocodiles, especially the large species, are potentially dangerous, that's true. And there is a increasig number of fatal crocodile attacks in Africa, in Borneo ( especially Sarawak)and in other places. Most of them are caused by an increasing number of humans and the ongoing loss of crocodilian habitats.

By the way, thanks for the blog.

Best, Ralf


diogenes 7 years ago

Yeah, Crocman, thanks for comment. The trouble with croc attacks is, like air crashes, they are often so dramatic and get international press attention. Look at the thousands dying every day on the roads, these accidents warrant a couple of paragraphs in the papers, unless a celebrity in involved.

Bob


LRobbins profile image

LRobbins 6 years ago from Germany

Very informative hub. I had no idea there were so many species of "Crocodilians" - you're right, it is a great word! I knew they were dangerous but didn't realize how dangerous they could be.


diogenes 6 years ago

They are dangerous, especially to the world's "hidden" poor, in Africa, mainly. They are also very easy - too easy - to hunt and kill. If people take reasonable precautions in their territory, we would seem to be able to co-exist.

Thanks for your interests, Bob


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan

Nice article. I am writing a hub on sacred crocodiles and this hub provided me with many information.


rickey l winkler 6 years ago

ive always been interested in crock , aligator , and shark attacts. one thing i've never seen taken into account is , there are humans in these areas that are just MISSING !most of the stories are reported by people who actualy saw the incedents happen.I also remember reading some where that when the first modern people , i believe it was the british ,that since humans hadn't been killing them yet , the crocidile population was at it's highest . that the first folks saw crocidiles that were 30 feet (10 meters) long. i'm also wondering if the specimins that we now have in captivity, like zoos & refuges will ever reach these gigantic sizes . i couldn't posibly imagine a crock being this large and dangerous . rickeyrwinkler2@aol.com


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 5 years ago from northeastern US

i'm female and i'm generally quiet. so much for your stereotypical jibe.

love the bear conversation - lol.

after reading several of your articles, i have come to appreciate your reverence toward all life - crocs (and i hope, women) included.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Thanks for later remarks, guys, (sorry cathylynne, I'll remove that; sometimes I forget I'm not talking to the blokes at the pub).

Trouble is when you start to get a lot of hubs, it's hard to keep up with comments arriving more than a week or so after they are published. But I do thank you for them...Bob


pisethz profile image

pisethz 5 years ago

I never see the real crocodile attract only in video or tv show. My country has less crocodiles and only small ones


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Very few people have witnessed actual atacks, pisethz. Most wouldn't want to. And the truth is, the "celebrity" attacks are very few. Most people that become a snack for a croc do so far from large cities and cameras or, indeed, the First World. They are the rural poor indigent peoples of the African jungles and the upper reaches of the Nle and its lakes. They die by the hundreds every year from croc attack... Bob


sweetie1 profile image

sweetie1 4 years ago from India

Hi diogenes , it is really unfortunate what happened in Brunei but I know there are quite a few people who have been victims of crocodile or alligator attacks here in India too. One of the biggest reason is humans dont recognise right of wild animals on habitat. With human population increase their habitat shrink and this make food in short supply and force them to attack and eat which are not their natural foods. We should respect their right to live.


Snakesmum profile image

Snakesmum 20 months ago from Victoria, Australia

As I used to live in the Northern Territory of Australia, I'm familiar with crocodiles, and just how stupid some people can be around them. Some years ago, they were hunted and there were very few of any great size around, but since hunting was banned, of course they are growing, and the large crocs. are encountered more often. I've lived in a remote area where tourists have been taken by a crocodile - all that was found was his clothing folded neatly on the river bank.

All danger aside, I agree with you that it would be a pity if we lost these prehistoric creatures.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 20 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Wow! We think they are primitive and stupid, yet they've learned to fold their victim's clothes after eating them!

Bob

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